“Why We Should Believe in the Virgin Birth” series: (post #1)
In the December 25th devotion from his classic devotional My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers writes:
Jesus Christ was born into this world; not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of – He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate – God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors.
I want you to take careful notice of that last line: “His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors.” What was that most humble of doors? It was the womb of a young Jewish virgin.
I dare say that we cannot fully wrap our minds around this fundamental truth. Jesus (the Son of God, God the Son) laid aside His power and glory, left heaven, invaded time and history, and in some miraculous way that we cannot fathom became a human fetus in the belly of young Jewish girl who was not officially married and had never had sexual relations. Is it any wonder that liberals and skeptics have a hard time swallowing that? They say, “The idea of the virgin birth is nothing but a fairy tale for adults!” Or, they say, “That whole story is just Christianity’s way of mimicking the traditions of the pagan religions in which the mythic gods and heroes supposedly sprang from supernatural sources.”
Sadly, such criticisms have collected their toll of doubt on some professing Christians. Even among certain preachers of our day, there are some who say, “It doesn’t really matter whether or not you believe that Jesus was born to a virgin. The important thing is just to believe in Him. At best, the virgin birth is a minor issue and a secondary doctrine.”
But is this attitude an acceptable one? Absolutely not! Not only is Christ’s virgin birth a major issue, it is also a foundational doctrine. As evidence of this, I’m going to devote three posts to a series I’m calling “Why We Should Believe in the Virgin Birth.”
So, with this first post, I want to say that we should believe in the virgin birth because scripture demands it. Yes, the Bible really does teach that Mary was a virgin when she conceived baby Jesus in her womb. Allow me to offer four easy-to-understand references.
First, in Matthew 1:18, the Bible says:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
Second, in Matthew 1: 22-25, we read:
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
Third, Luke 1:26-27 says:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
Fourth, Luke 1:34 says of Mary after Gabriel had told her that she was going to conceive a son:
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (N.K.J.V., emphasis mine)
In these passages that use the word “virgin,” the Greek word that gets translated as “virgin” is parthenos. It is the same Greek word that was used in the naming of the famous Parthenon, which was the Greek temple dedicated to the virgin goddess Athena. You see, the Bible really does teach that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb.
Of course, I hope that my quoting of these passages from Matthew and Luke is enough evidence for you to agree that scripture demands that we believe in the virgin birth. Sadly, however, it isn’t enough evidence for some people. Consider the following true story as proof of that.
Harry Rimmer, who was a well-known Presbyterian minister of his day, once found himself in a sad situation as he served as a member of the ordination council that was examining a young man for ordination into the ministry. Rimmer was astonished to hear the young man boldly state, “I do not believe in the virgin birth.” Even more astonishingly, when some of the other ministers began to sternly question the young man about his unorthodox viewpoint on the matter, an older minister from the council spoke in the young man’s defense by saying, “I don’t want this council to make a big point of this because I don’t accept the virgin birth either.”
It was at this juncture that the council turned their questioning from the young candidate to the older minister. They asked him, “Why don’t you believe in the virgin birth?” But the older minister was ready with a quick reply. He said, “Because it is only found on two pages of the New Testament. Matthew and Luke are the only ones who ever mention it. In all of the writings of Paul, he never introduces the question of the virgin birth.”
Upon hearing that answer, Dr. Rimmer became so incensed that he finally had to speak up in the meeting. He stood up and said to the older minister, “Tell us then, what do you teach and preach?” Calmly, the minister responded, “The Sermon on the Mount. That is enough for anyone.” As soon as those words had fallen from the minister’s lips, however, Dr. Rimmer said, “It’s not enough for me. I don’t believe in the Sermon on the Mount.”
Now it was the older minister’s turn to be shocked. He looked at Dr. Rimmer and asked, “Why not?” To that, Dr. Rimmer used the older minister’s faulty reasoning against him by saying, “Because The Sermon on the Mount only occurs on two pages of the New Testament, and Matthew and Luke are the only Gospels who mention it.”
Do you see how absurd the older minister’s argument was? While it’s true that the gospels of Mark and John never mention the virgin birth of Christ, the plain fact is that neither of those gospels specifically mentions Jesus being born at all! Mark’s gospel leads off with the account of the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry, and Jesus first enters into Mark’s storyline as a grown man who travels from Nazareth to Galilee to be baptized by John. And as for John’s gospel, the closest he gets to describing Christ’s virgin birth is to say of Jesus: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14, N.K.J.V.) Can we assume, then, that because these two gospels make no mention of Christ’s actual birth that Jesus wasn’t born? Of course not!
In conclusion, it is absurd to say of the virgin birth, “It can’t be scriptural because it is only mentioned in two of the four gospels.” How many times does God have to record something for it to be considered a legitimate doctrine or teaching? If He says something once it’s enough, and He says on multiple occasions that Jesus was born to a virgin. Therefore, to sum up the point of this first post from this series, we should believe in the virgin birth because scripture demands it.